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Warren Commission Hearings: Vol. VII - Page 471« Previous | Next »

(Testimony of Lawrence F. O'brien)

Mr. Adams.
Mr. O'BRIEN. That is correct.
Mr. Adams.
Mr. O'BRIEN. Mr. O'Donnell and I went to the rear compartment where we joined Mr. Powers and General McHugh. Mrs. Kennedy was seated in one of the two chairs. Mr. O'Donnell took the other chair. The three of us stood. The plane took off. And we remained with Mrs. Kennedy for the duration of the trip to Washington.
We consulted, or were consulted by General Clifton and Mr. Moyers on two or three occasions during the trip, on arrangements for the President's activity upon arrival here in Washington. One suggestion was made that we---that they call in for a meeting of the White House staff. But that was discarded as impractical at this point. Arrangements were made, however, which Mr. Moyers checked with me, on the calling of the bipartisan leaders to a meeting with the president, and arrangements were put in effect for the President to meet the Under Secretary of State in the absence of the Secretary and other officials here.
Mr. Adams.
How did it come about that the remains of President Kennedy were taken to the naval hospital?
Mr. O'BRIEN. It was my understanding that the President would be taken to a hospital. I don't recall any discussion of the reason specifically other than my assumption that the autopsy would take place at one of the military hospitals in Washington. And obviously there were two to select from, and the President being an ex-Navy man, it seemed just sort of normal to suggest Bethesda.
Mr. Adams.
And you remained with Mrs. Kennedy during the entire trip?
Mr. O'BRIEN. Yes; I did.
Mr. Adams.
What was her condition?
Mr. O'BRIEN. She conversed a great deal with us. The one impression left with me from the entire trip and conversations with Mrs. Kennedy during the trip, participated in by all of us, was her great concern for us, really-her feeling that we had, as she put it, been with him at the beginning and we were with him at the end. We were all bereft. And I am afraid that the four of us who felt that we should be of some comfort to her were inadequate to the job in the sense that it was difficult for us to come up with anything that made much sense by way of being helpful.
Mr. Adams.
Do you remember any other general subjects of discussion as you made the trip up?
Mr. O'BRIEN. No; I do not.
Mr. Adams.
What happened when you arrived?
Mr. O'BRIEN. A lift was placed at the rear door of the plane. The honor guard came up the front steps, through the plane, to the back compartment. We concluded that we would take the body off the plane.
Mr. Adams.
You say "we." You mean Mr. Powers, Mr. O'Donnell, and yourself?
Mr. O'BRIEN. General McHugh. And so we proceeded to do just that. We took the--lifted the coffin, with the help of the crew people, and placed it on the lift, and it was taken from there.
We---the three of us---four of us--McHugh was with us--got into a car. The Attorney General and Mrs. Kennedy went into the ambulance, if that is what it was. And we followed in a car directly behind that, went out to Bethesda Naval Hospital.
Mr. Adams.
What did you do when you arrived there?
Mr. O'BRIEN. We went immediately to an upper floor of the hospital, where we joined members of the President's family. General McHugh went elsewhere. And we then spent several hours in these rooms on, I don't know what floor of the hospital.
Mr. Adams.
When you referred to the President's family, what particular members were there?
Mr. O'BRIEN. Well, Mrs. Stephen Smith was there.
Mr. Adams.
Mrs. Attorney General Kennedy?
Mr. O'BRIEN. Yes. I don't recall all the members of the family. The Attorney General--and there were there was an occasional person that came and went during the night. But that was basically the group.
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